Facts Corner-Part-118

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Scrub Typhus

  • Scrub Typhus is an acute illness in humans caused by a bacteria.
  • It is transmitted by the bite of infected mite larva present in the soil.
  • Gorakhpur in U.P is treated as a hub of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES). 
  • Number of patients affected by AES admitted in the Hospital has increased during Monsoon period.
  • To find out the reason behind this, researchers has identified the role of scrub typhus.
  • Almost, 65% of the AES patients got infected by Scrub Typhus.
  • This finding is important, given that scrub typhus can be treated easily if detected early.
  • The increase in infestation of rodents by mites during August-October explains why scrub typhus incidence peaks during monsoon.

Sea surface temperature

  • Sea surface temperature (SST) is an important parameter for oceanographic and atmospheric studies and to monitor biological habitations in the marine environment.
  • Indian scientists have developed a new sensor to measure ocean temperatures.
  • The negative temperature coefficient (NTC) thermistor-based sensor, developed by scientists at the Chennai-based National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) and School of Engineering at Vels University, Chennai, can be deployed on drifting buoys on the sea.
  • India has deployed buoys named Pradyu which communicate with Indian satellite INSAT for real-time data telemetry.
  • Twenty such buoys equipped with the new sensor have been deployed in the Arabian Sea from the research vessel, SagarManjusha.
  • They were used to collect sea surface temperature data for about one month.

Green Propellants

  • The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is developing green propellants for future rockets, considering the harmful effects of exhausts released by rockets on the earth’s atmosphere.
  • The propellants that are being used have a very reactive effect on the ozone layer due to the release of chlorinated exhaust products.
  • This, along with other chemicals released, wreaks havoc on the sensitive ozone layer.
  • The new propellant has the capacity to eliminate chlorinated exhaust from rocket motors. The solid propellant is based on Glycidyl Azide Polymer as fuel and Ammonium Di-Nitamide as an oxidiser.
  • ISRO has already been using LOX/Liquid Hydrogen and LOX/Kerosene-based propulsion systems for launch vehicles, and electric propulsion for spacecraft.
  • The LOX/Liquid Hydrogen combination is already being used in the upper stages of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) and GSLV Mk-III.

India-UN Small Satellites Programme’ (INDOUNSSP)

  • India announced a capacity building programme, INDOUNSSP (India UN Small Satellites Programme) on small satellites development in COPUOS (Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space)” at Vienna in February 2017.
  • INDOUNSSP will be held for the first time this year.
  • A combination of theoretical coursework and hands-on training on Assembly, Integration and Testing (AIT) will be conducted.
  • Training for selected students will be conducted at U R Rao Satellite Centre in Bengaluru for the next three years.
  • 30 candidates from 15 developing nations will be selected and each of the 45 nations under INDOUNSSP will nominate two students.

SBM ODF+ and ODF++ Protocol

  • The SBM ODF+ protocol focuses on sustaining community/ public toilet usage by ensuring their functionality, cleanliness and maintenance.
  • The SBM ODF++ will focus on achieving sanitation sustainability by addressing complete sanitation value chain, including safe containment, processing and disposal of fecal sludge and septage.
  • The ODF+ and ++ protocol and toolkit to be launched will detail out the necessary conditions to be achieved by cities for declaring themselves as ODF+ and ODF++, along with the detailed steps required for third party certifications.

Swachh Manch web portal

  • It is a web-based platform which aims to bring together every stakeholder contributing to the Swachh Bharat Mission under a common platform.
  • It will allow stakeholders to create/invite/participate in volunteering opportunities around neighborhoods.
  • It will enable uploads of pictorial evidence of citizens and organizations participating in the initiatives, as well as record the number of hours volunteered, as acknowledgement of citizens’/organisations’ efforts and contributions to the cause of ‘swachhata’.
  • The Swachh Manch will also be integrated with the existing Swachhata App to act as a citizens’ grievance redressal platform.

Assistance for Prevention of Alcoholism and Substance (Drug) Abuse

  1. Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment implements this Central Sector Scheme for identification, counseling, treatment and rehabilitation of addicts through voluntary and other eligible organizations.
  2. Under this Scheme, financial assistance is provided to NGOs/Voluntary organizations and other eligible agencies for setting-up/running Integrated Rehabilitation Centre for Addicts (IRCAs).

As per the norms of the scheme following organizations/institutions shall be eligible for assistance under the Scheme of Assistance for Prevention of Alcoholism and Substance (Drug) Abuse:

  • A Society registered under the Societies’ Registration Act, 1860 (XXI of 1860) or any relevant Act of the State Governments/ Union Territory Administrations or under any State law relating to the registration of Literary, Scientific and Charitable societies, or
  • Registered Societies formed by the State Governments.
  • District Hospitals subject to condition that they maintain separate accounts for de-addiction.
  • Railway Hospitals near major Railway Stations subject to condition that they maintain separate accounts for de-addiction.
  • A Public Trust registered under any law for the time being in force, or
  • A Company established under Section 25 of the Companies Act, 1956; or
  • Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs), Urban Local Bodies (ULBs),  organizations/institutions fully funded or managed by State/ Central Government or a local body; or
  • Universities, Schools of Social Work, other reputed educational institutions, NYKS, and such other well established organizations/ institutions which may be approved by the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment.
  1. The proposals of above eligible organizations are forwarded by the State Governments.
  2. However, the proposals of NGOs for release of grant in aid are considered in the Ministry only after it is inspected and recommended by the State Government.

Prime Minister’s Research Fellows (PMRF) Scheme 

1. PMRF scheme is aimed at attracting the talent pool of the country to doctoral (PhD) programs of Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and Indian Institute of Science (IISc) for carrying out research in cutting-edge science and technology domains, with focus on national priorities.
2. It is a public-private partnership (PPP) between Science & Engineering Research Board (SERB), which is an autonomous body under the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).
3. It aims at attracting meritorious students from across the country including the North East Region.
4. Candidates who have completed or are in the final year of B.Tech. or Integrated M.Tech of M.Sc. in science and technology streams in following institutions are eligible to pursue research in the frontier areas of science & technology:

  • Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs),
  • Indian Institute of Science (IISc),
  • Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs),
  • National Institutes of Technology (NITs),
  • Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISERs)

Features of the Scheme

1. Applicants who fulfil the eligibility criteria, and are finally selected through a selection process, will be offered admission to PhD program in one of IITs/IISc with a fellowship of Rs.70,000/- per month for the first two years
2. Rs.75, 000/- per month for the 3rd year, and Rs.80, 000/- per month in the 4th and 5th years.
3. Apart from this, a research grant of Rs.2.00 lakh per year will be provided to each of the Fellows for a period of 5 years to cover their academic contingency expenses and for foreign/national travel expenses.


Price Support Schemes

  • Under Price Support Scheme (PSS), the procurement of oil seeds, pulses and cotton through Central Nodal Agencies at the Minimum Support Price (MSP) is also undertaken.
  • This scheme is implemented at the request of the concerned State Government which agrees to exempt the procured commodities from levy of mandi tax and assist central nodal agencies in logistic arrangements including gunny bags, provide working capital for state agencies, creation of revolving fund for PSS operations etc. as required under the Scheme guidelines.
  • The basic objectives of PSS are to provide remunerative prices to the growers for their produce with a view to encourage higher investment and production and to safeguard the interest of consumers by making available supplies at reasonable prices with low cost of intermediation.
  • Further, Government of India also implements Market Intervention Scheme (MIS) for procurement of agricultural and horticultural commodities which are perishable in nature and are not covered under the Price Support Scheme (PSS). The objective of intervention is to protect the growers of these commodities from making distress sale in the event of a bumper crop during the peak arrival period when the prices tend to fall below economic levels and cost of production. The condition is that there should be either at least a 10 percent increase in production or a 10 percent decrease in the ruling market prices over the previous normal year. The scheme is implemented at the request of a State/UT Government which is ready to bear 50 percent of the loss (25 percent in case of North-Eastern States), if any, incurred on its implementation.
  • The extent of total amount of loss to be shared on a 50:50 basis between the Central Government and the State Government is restricted to 25 percent of the total procurement value which includes cost of the commodity procured plus permitted overhead expenses.

Environmental Performance Index

  • Seven months after India found itself among the bottom five countries on the Environmental Performance Index (EPI) 2018, the Union Environment Ministry on Tuesday said that “changes made” to the index, which saw India drop 36 points from 141 in 2016 to 177 this year, “have not been explained or backed by scientific arguments”, and seem to be “arbitrary.”
  • The ministry also said that the report “relied on data gathered by NASA satellite in place of actual monitored data”, and “has not been peer-reviewed.”
  • The biennial report by Yale and Columbia universities, along with the World Economic Forum, was released on the sidelines of the forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January. It ranks 180 countries on their performance.
  • India ranked bottom of the list in the environmental health category, and ranked 178 out of 180 on air quality. The EPI found that air quality remains the leading environmental threat to public health.
  • Under EPI 2016, air quality figured as a category only under environmental health, while in EPI 2018 there is an additional category of air pollution under ‘Ecosystem vitality’, which “seems misplaced”.
  • Overall, the report put India (at 177) and Bangladesh (179) near the bottom of the rankings, with Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo and Nepal rounding out the bottom five.
  • The report had said that deaths attributed to ultra-fine PM2.5 pollutants have risen over the past decade and are estimated at 1,640,113 annually in India. “India’s low scores are influenced by poor performance in environmental health policy objective. Deaths attributed to PM2.5 have risen over the past decade and are estimated at 1,640,113, annually [Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, 2017],” noted the report.

Flood Control Schemes 

  • The subject of flood management including erosion control falls within the purview of the States.
  • The flood management & anti-erosion schemes are planned, investigated and implemented by the State Governments with their own resources as per priority within the State.
  • The Union Government renders technical guidance and promotional financial assistance to States.
  • The Ministry had launched “Flood Management Programme (FMP)” a State sector Scheme in XI Plan which was continued during XII Plan.

During XII Plan, a Central Sector Scheme, “River Management Activities and Works related to Border Areas (RMBA)” was implemented by the Ministry of Water Resources to cover following major components:

  1. Hydrological observations and flood forecasting on common border rivers with neighbouring countries.
  2. Investigation of WR projects in Neighbouring Countries.
  3. Pre-construction activities for WR projects on common border rivers-Pancheshwar Development Authority(PDA)
  4. Grant- in- Aid to States/UTs for flood management/anti –sea erosion works:-
  1. Maintenance of flood protection works of Kosi & Gandak projects (in Nepal), Flood Protection/anti-erosion works in the border areas with Bangladesh and Pakistan by States.
  2. Flood Management/anti-erosion works/anti- sea erosion works in UTs.
  1. Activities of Ganga Flood Control Commission (GFCC).

Fall Armyworm

  • The Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) has sounded the alarm after the invasive agricultural pest Fall Armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) was discovered in Karnataka this July.
  • A major maize pest in North America, the Fall Armyworm arrived in Africa in 2016.
  • Since then, it has threatened the continent’s maize crop, a staple which feeds 300 million people.
  • The Karnataka finding is the first report of the pest in Asia. The discovery is more worrisome because the pest feeds on around 100 different crops, such as vegetables, rice, and sugarcane.
  • Its discovery in Karnataka means its spread to the rest of the country, as well as neighbouring countries, could be just a matter of time.
  • Initially, they suspected it was the Northern Armyworm, or Mythimna separata, a common local pest. But when they examined the moth, they were able to identify it as the Fall Armyworm through its distinctive genitalia. Further confirmation came through DNA barcoding at Bengaluru’s Indian Institute of Horticultural Research.
  • The first line of defence against the Fall Armyworm will be insecticides like lambda-cyhalothrin. It’s efficacy is currently being studied in field trials. Also, the researchers have found some natural predators such as coccinellid beetles, that can aid biological control. A fungal species called Nomuraea rileyi also infects the Fall Armyworm.
  • In India, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu are at immediate risk. And even though the pests reported in Shivamogga and Chikballapur, Karnataka, are only feeding on maize and sorghum at the moment, they are likely to spread to other crops.

Article 35A?

  • It is a provision incorporated in the Constitution through a Presidential Order, and not by parliamentary debate, giving the Jammu and Kashmir State Legislature a complete say in deciding who the ‘permanent residents’ of the State are. The State Legislature can grant its permanent residents special rights and privileges in public sector jobs, acquisition of property, scholarships and other public aid and welfare programmes within the State.
  • It was incorporated into the Constitution in 1954 by an order of President Rajendra Prasad on the advice of the Jawaharlal Nehru Cabinet.
  • The Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order of 1954 followed the 1952 Delhi Agreement entered into between Prime Minister Nehru and Jammu and Kashmir Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah extending Indian citizenship to the ‘State subjects’ of Jammu and Kashmir. Article 35A was added to the Constitution as a testimony of the special consideration the Indian government accorded the ‘permanent residents’ of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The Presidential Order was issued under Article 370(1)(d), which allows the President to make certain “exceptions and modifications” to the Constitution for the benefit of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • However Article 368(i) of the Constitution mandates that only the Parliament can amend the Constitution by introducing a new article.